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April 12th. The rubbish collectors.

The Owner has developed an Extremely Peculiar Habit. Her obsession with Collecting the Rear End Offerings of the Moral Dog seem to have extended into Collecting Similar Offerings from Other Dogs. Moreover, she is doing it wearing Blue Plastic Gloves and Strange Round Sunglasses, and carrying a Huge Orange Bag.

Are you trying to Make a Point? I ask.

Not at All, says the Owner, I am Doing my Civic Duty. One would not want a Badger to eat this Bag of Poo.

There are no Badgers in Highgate Woods, I say.

Or a Squirrel, says the Owner.

Frankly, I say, if a Squirrel wants to eat a Bag of Poo I would regard that as a Pyrrhic Victory.

Do not be Mean, says the Owner. You are being Squirrelist.

Of course I am, I say, I am a Dog. I thought you Disapproved of my Interest in Poo, I say.

I do, says the Owner.

Then why are you Collecting It in an Orange Bag Whilst dressed like a Weirdy? I ask.

It is a Social Duty, says the Owner, the Bins are all Covered.

If you Pick it Up, I say, People will only Throw More of it Down.

On the Contrary, says the Owner, it is because People see that others have Thrown it Down that they feel Able to Do the Same. It is sometimes called the Bandwagon Effect.

What is a Bandwagon? I ask.

Originally, says the Owner, it was the Wagon with a Band on it, travelling in a procession.

And was it known for Collecting Dog Poo? I ask.

No, says the Owner, it was Known for carrying those who were all committed to the Same Thing. The Bandwagon Effect refers to Individuals tending to adopt Behaviours with increasing likelihood as they see that Others have Done So.

Like Ancestral Dogs, I say, although perhaps with more Music.  Perhaps the First Band was formed in this way.

Indeed, says the Owner, it is Pack Behaviour. For example, people often buy the kind of clothes that Fashionable Others are wearing, because they want to feel that they are Fashionable Too. Yet Fashion is not Real, it is a Whim.

I do hope this did not Influence your Judgement in the Matter of the Tomato Red Dog Coat which I briefly wore? I say.

The One which was inexplicably shredded by an Unexpected Hedge? Asks the Owner.

It was a Tragedy, I say, remembering the Trouble Caspar and I had dragging it through the hedge, and how Houdini Laughed.

No, says the Owner, I do not follow Fashion. 

I would never have guessed, I say. 

The main reason why people experience the Bandwagon Effect, says the Owner, is that they rely on Other People’s Judgment, and Other People’s Leadership, when making decisions. This prompts them to Follow the Crowd.

Is this about Donald Trump again? I ask.

No, says the Owner, I am attempting to spent 24 hours without even thinking of Donald Trump. The Bandwagon Effect plays a central role in the Herd Behaviour involved in depositing Dog Poo in Bags in the Woods.

Why would People collect Dog Poo in a Bag if only to hide it under a Bush? I ask.

Indeed it would make no Objective Sense, says the Owner, but Humans are Social beings so we Exhibit Group Behaviour. This is both our Great Strength and Great Failing. Moving with the Group is a Sign of Solidarity. Promoting Group Cohesion and Strengthening the Bonds of Mutual Support helps Make a Community Resilient in the Face of Disaster. Those who Work Together, Hold Together. However, if Our Leaders make Poor Decisions we are also Doomed fo Fail Together. If they decide to Run over a Cliff then Over we Go.

Ah, I say, this is about the Health Secretary who is trying to Subtly Imply that it is All Our Fault that you Doctors have no Plastic Gloves, isn’t it? I say.

I would not attempt to Score Political Points in a Discussion with the Moral Dog, says the Owner, and I am also attempting to spend 24 hours without moaning about the Health Secretary, although this is a Feat it may take me Several Years to Achieve. Nevertheless this is not about Doctors and the Health Secretary, this is about Dog Poo.

Very Well, I say, I will enter the Discussion in the Spirit in which it is Meant, but the Bandwagon Effect only explains why Bad Behaviour is Copied, it does not explain why People behave badly in the First Place. Someone left the First Poo in Bag in the Woods.

Imagine Two Metaphorical People says the Owner, Burdened with Bags of Dog Poo. They stand in the Woods and Gaze about them. They see Nobody Carrying Dog Poo home, and Nobody Abandoning It. One Person decides to take it home, because they Think that is the Right Thing. The Other decides to tuck it behind a tree where Nobody will see it, because they are not going home yet, they are hoping for a Long Walk and did not plan on Taking Dog Poo with them. Perhaps they will Collect it Later, they tell themselves. But they go home another way, without collecting it. Then two more people come along, and they see that a decision has been taken to Tuck Dog Poo behind a Tree. Aha, they say, that is what we have done as a group. This is Normal. Let us do the Same. Because being Normal is easy and it Makes Sense.

I understand that, I say, but if that is the case why are you wearing those Strange Rubber Gloves and stomping through the Woods like the Angel of Rubbish? I ask. Will not People who have Formed a View on the Best way of Disposing think you Strange and even Condemn you for Failing to Conform to the Ways of the Pack?

You may be Right, says the Owner, but I think most people will see that if the Owner of a Dog can go for a Walk wearing Rubber Gloves and Strange Round Sunglasses and a Recycled Plastic Necklace and carrying an Orange Plastic Bag full of Dog Poo then this is also Normal. The Bandwagon Effect has a positive feedback mechanism, encouraging others to join the bandwagon. Moving with the Group is a Sign of Solidarity. Promoting Group Cohesion and Strengthening the Bonds of Mutual Support helps Make a Community Resilient in the Face of Disaster. Those who Work Together, Hold Together. We could Start a Trend.

It is a Scary Trend, I say.

I do not see why, says the Owner.

So tomorrow when we come to the Woods and it is full of People dressed like Hippies wearing Rubber Gloves and strange round Sunglasses and Carrying Orange Bags full of Rubbish whilst riding a Bandwagon you will not find that At All Scary? I ask.

I had not thought of that, says the Owner, I think we will go Somewhere Else for our Walk tomorrow. 

The Moral Dog. Protection against Bandwagons Of Weirdies of all varieties. 

Categories: covid diary dignity dog dog philosophy

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Hergest the Hound

I am a dog of many thoughts.

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